Rangers: Four things you need to know from the club’s financial results
British football's most turbulent club Rangers released their financial results yesterday, and predictably there were new revelations to discuss and more facts to depress fans.
The future is looking slightly more rosy with a more popular board at the helm, but there remains an awful lot of fixing up to do if Rangers are going to return to the pinnacle of Scottish football and beyond. Here's the four most important facts from Rangers International Football Club's interim results.
1. The club remains in desperate need of funding
In one sense, there were lots of positives to take from Rangers' most recent accounts. The club's operating loss for the six-month period ended 31 December 2014 fell by £800,000 while costs were brought down by just under £1m and revenues remained relatively stable at £13m.
And yet, the message from interim chairman Paul Murray was clear: "The mismanagement of the club in recent years has been simply staggering". Murray and directors John Gilligan, Douglas Park and John Bennett took over on the club's board, usurping the previous regime at an EGM at the beginning of last month.
Included in the interim statement published yesterday is a statement from independent reporting accountants casting doubt "about the company's ability to continue as a going concern". The cash balances at the end of period stood at £3.3m – but £3.2m of that relates to Rangers Retail – tied into a joint venture with Sports Direct – and remains unavailable as working capital for the football club.
The current board has made the identification of working capital a "priority" and are currently exploring a number of options for potential investors.
And on top of everything else, the company is facing the prospect of being delisted from the AIM market after its nominated adviser WH Ireland resigned with immediate effect on 4 March. The club is still searching for a replacement.
2. Alienation of the fans had a damaging effect on finances
The previous board's stewardship of the club proved incredibly unpopular with fans, who objected to lucrative contracts enjoyed by directors such as Derek Llambias and Barry Leach.
Not only did fans stage visible protests against the previous board, but the disaffection which led to many shirking season ticket sales leading to lower attendances and a £0.7m drop in ticketing revenue. That contributed to an overall £0.1m drop in revenue.
3. Mike Ashley could still take £0.5m from the club
Perhaps more unpopular than any other figure amongst Rangers fans, however, is Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley. The notorious Sports Direct founder still owns a 9.2 per cent stake in the club, despite the removal of allies such as Llambias from the board.
Not only does Ashley wield control over Rangers Retail, he could also be in line for a £500,000 windfall from the club thanks to five Newcastle players loaned to Rangers in the January transfer window. Should Rangers win promotion to the Scottish Premiership – they must pay Newcastle £500,000 for the loans of Gael Bigirimana, Haris Vuckic, Kevin Mbabu, Remie Streefe and Shane Ferguson. Only Vuckic has played in the league so far.
4. Fans and board must work together to reach 2022 goal
Outlined in the board's interim statement is a "2022 vision" which aims to take Rangers back to "the very top" within the next seven years.
Such is the size of Rangers' fan base that the goal is possible – even in spite of the precarious financial difficulties it currently faces – yet the support of that fanbase will be essential if the current board is to achieve success.
Murray says in his statement: "Achieving this [2022 vision] will be impossible if our fans do not buy into that vision. Buying season books and match-day tickets is not just about today, it is also very much about where we want to be in a year, five years, ten years and beyond".
As evidenced in the financial results, a clash of philosophies between board and fans will hold the club back from future progress. The two parties must work together.